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Tuesday, August 29, 2017


IS THE STATE TALKING TO ITSELF? “North Dakota brings a set of UAS capabilities to the table that remains unmatched around the country." -- U.S. Sen John Hoeven at the UAS Summit in Grand Forks. The superlatives rolled on. UND President Mark Kennedy: "This is the No. 1 opportunity to expand North Dakota's economy beyond oil and soil." U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer: “North Dakota is the go-to place for UAS." Hoeven: “Drone capabilities at Grand Forks Air Force Base also make North Dakota a candidate for Arctic missions and air guard training.” Are these realizations well understood outside ND? It would be nice to see greater confirmation in national media.

JOHN “JACK” HOEVEN (87), the father of U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, died last Saturday in Minot. The senior Hoeven’s second wife also died the same week. Jack is credited with building First Western Bank & Trust in Minot. He was one of the most important Minot civic leaders and community supporters in recent history. A SD native, he began his banking career in Missoula, where he graduated from the U. of Montana Law School.

LIVING HIGH Elfonzo Shelby’s Minnesota welfare applications claimed he lived in St. Paul without a car or income. Actually, he lived in Fargo, drove a Cadillac Escalade and had substantial illegal income from government programs. He fraudulently obtained over $300,000 from three Minnesota counties over a period of six years. He has an extensive criminal history in Minnesota -- as we can see, a state with generous welfare benefits.

METH is ND’s illegal drug of choice. In the early 2000s, many of the state’s mom-and-pop-style meth labs were shut down. But demand rebounded and is supplied by Mexican cartels. Meth-related arrest incidents have risen from 434 in 2012 to 1,955 in 2016.

WHITE SUPREMACIST CRAIG COBB and his followers terrorized the little town of Leith ND about four years ago. Lauren Donovan of the Bismarck Tribune reports that events in Charlottesville VA have revived their anxiety and Leith residents are concerned that, when Cobb completes his four-year probation in 2018, he may call again.

THE WASHINGTON POST conducted a study of the quality and cost of growing old in each state. ND was the second worst state with a high cost of assisted living and relatively poor elder health care. Wyoming was ranked the worst state; New York, Indiana and W. Virginia rounded out the worst five. The five best states were Utah, Iowa, South Carolina, Washington and Nebraska.

STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE Would you consider a 70th reunion with your high school class? Wouldn’t most of your classmates be frail or deceased? That didn’t stop the Minot high school classes of 1947 -- they had an enthusiastic turnout of 30 grads -- average age 88.

CHEERLEADERS Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and Young Professionals of Jamestown attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony. What was so auspicious? A Perkins Family restaurant had been updated and also offered a new menu. Smaller cities like Jamestown honor events which go relatively unnoticed in bigger cities. After their Perkins visit, the Ambassadors and Young Professionals scurried on to their next task -- presenting Berna’s Barber Shop a Business of the Month Award.

GOV. DOUG BURGUM was praised in a Forum editorial because, “His administration has been more engaged with the tribes than any in recent memory.” The editorial noted American Indians “represent 5.5 percent of North Dakota’s population” and questioned, why church groups, which make mission trips abroad, don’t make the same effort with ND reservations.

WHITEY’S WONDERBAR in East Grand Forks had many near-death experiences. Founded in 1925, Whitey’s survived fire and flood, but was unable to survive weak business and closed today. Later this year, Sickies Garage Burgers and Brews will move into the location overlooking the Red River and GF beyond. The horseshoe bar will remain. Feelings about Whitey’s are strong. About ten years ago, Whitey’s gave me a menu, which I took back to California and gave to the owner of a cafe -- a former Nodak, she was an admirer of Whitey’s and kept the menu on the cafe wall until her death.

FAMOUS DAVE’S is rapidly becoming less famous. The barbecue chain recently closed 13 restaurants in Minnesota and other states. The president of a restaurant equipment company said, “I don’t think we’ve ever seen such an aggressive, persistent number of closures as we’ve seen in the last six to 12 months.” An online auction next month by a Twin Cities company will have 20 semitrailers of used equipment. The auctions are a “potential bargain bonanza” according to the Star Tribune. The closures follow a national pattern -- Fargo has also seen an unusual number of restaurant closures this last year.

HOME OWNERSHIP FOR BLACKS in the Twin Cities metro area (23 percent) is the lowest of 80 U.S. cities and dropping, while ownership rates there for whites are among the highest in the nation. The area also recorded the nation’s largest decline in Hispanic home ownership from 2005 to 2015. The principal reason for low ownership for both minority groups was the combination of low incomes and rising home prices.

DAKTOIDS: Broadband internet service in ND, MN and SD is around 47 percent -- about the national average . . . A slight drop in ND oil production can be traced to a shortage of fracturing crews -- they have been unable to keep up with the state’s 50 drilling rigs . . . Williston’s $112 million airport has begun construction -- the federal government contributed $73 million . . . One of the most influential American Indian fashion designers is Jessica Metcalfe -- she lives in Gardena ND near the Turtle Mt. Reservation . . . A project completed last fall at the State Mill in Grand Forks increased capacity by 30 percent, making it the largest wheat flour mill in the country.

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